We did a lot while we were in Costa Rica.
We zip-lined in Monteverde, visited opulent hot springs in La Fortuna, wandered around San Jose and relaxed in Jaco. I think that maybe my expectations for Costa Rica were a little high. In comparison to the other places we visited in Central America, Costa Rica seemed a lot more touristy, and less authentic than the others. Or maybe it was just because it rained a lot there in our last week of travelling!
When we arrived in Costa Rica from Nicaragua, we headed straight up the mountains to Monteverde. This is where the rain started and didn’t end for about 4 days. The higher altitude meant we were among the clouds, so rain was somewhat inevitable.
One of the best things we did in Costa Rica was the zip lining with 100% Aventura Tours. They, apparently, have the longest zip line in Latin America measuring 1590 metres. I have zip-lined before and really enjoyed it, but this was on another level. Add in the fact that it was lashing rain and howling wind, and it made me pretty nervous! The Superman zip line works by you essentially lying down in the air with your harness attached to the line in two places at your back.
It’s very unnerving getting clipped in and lying down above the ground, face down. It’s also unnerving when it’s so misty out that the line disappears in the distance and you’re taking a total leap of faith. And the howling wind is shaking that line at the same time. Scary stuff. It was so much fun though! It’s totally surreal, you feel like a bird or something flying above the trees. If you are worried about heights or anything, the team there are amazing. I felt as safe as I could considering I was also thinking about every potential thing that could go wrong at the same time. Do it. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing and I’m so glad I pushed myself to do it.
We did that our first morning in Monteverde, and to be honest, after that I was ready to leave. It’s a very small town with not much to do. As it was my last week travelling, I really wanted to pack in as many experiences as possible. That’s one thing about group travel though, or travelling with a tour group. The dates were essentially set thanks to the hotel bookings etc, so it meant we had to stay for a second night before heading to La Fortuna at mid day the next day.
La Fortuna is a bigger town than Monteverde, further down the mountain, so the weather did improve somewhat when we got there. Some of the group went on an early morning tour to see sloths, which they raved about. Others did whitewater rafting, which they also raved about. I wanted to take a few days to work on footage, posts for this site, even sorting through all my millions of photos. La Fortuna was a perfect place to do this as there were nice coffee shops – I set up camp in a place called Rainforest Cafe – the weather was dry, but not exactly sunbathing weather, and the main activity we wanted to do – the hot springs – was a nighttime activity. Meaning, unless I was doing day tours, I was free during the day to sort my life out!
The hot springs in La Fortuna are part of a hotel, so they’re a lot more commercialised than the hot springs we visited in Honduras. There’s lots of different pools to choose from, loungers, a bar, and a few restaurants. As part of your access to the hot springs, you can get your all you can eat buffet added to the price. Do it. The food was insanely good, and so much to choose from. It did rain the entire time we were at the hot spring, but as we were getting wet already, it didn’t really matter. It can be really busy there. We were calling some pools “human soup” because there were just so many people packed into them. But some of the other pools are essentially empty, so it just takes a little exploring.
After a night in La Fortuna, we headed to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. I found it to be a culture shock. San Jose was like being back in a very busy, bustling, commercial city. There was McDonalds, KFC, shops, public transport, people everywhere. I hadn’t realised how much I had enjoyed how peaceful the places we had been were. It was a little overwhelming to be honest. I wasn’t a big fan of San Jose, and maybe that was part of the reason, but I just found it difficult to enjoy the madness of it.
San Jose was our last place together as a group. Some were continuing on to Panama with a new tour group, some were heading straight home, some were staying in San Jose. I had made the decision to head to Jaco the next morning with a few of the others. But first we had our last group dinner. It’s amazing how close you get with people in a few short weeks when you’re travelling together non stop. I count myself as being very lucky to have had such a lovely group of people to travel around Central America with.
The next morning, after grabbing a quick coffee, we decided to get an Uber to Jaco. Bare in mind it was a two hour car journey, but having looked it up, Uber was going to work out cheaper and give us more flexibility with time. We ended up taking a bus back to the airport a few days later, but only because it went directly there.
Jaco is a lovely little surfing town. It’s got some great restaurants, a lovely beach, nice people, and fun nightlife. I think if you’re looking to chill out for a few days and just soak up the sun, this is a great place to do it. I’m glad I decided to go to Jaco before going home for a few nights as San Jose wasn’t the best note to finish my trip on. We stayed in a cheap hostel which consisted of tents outside. They were seriously hot in the morning time with the sun baking in on top of you! But on the bright side it got us up and out early. There is a hotel with a pool right beside the beach that has some deals going with local hostels. We were able to go to that pool for free as a result, which was perfect in the heat.
Our very last night we went to a bar for flights of beer, amazing pizza and then headed to karaoke. It was the funniest way to end the trip. Rum, karaoke, and making friends with all the other people in the bar. I ended up staying out insanely late and only getting an hours sleep before having to fire everything in my bag and run for the bus to the airport. Not the best decision I’ve made, but a pretty funny story!
If you’re thinking of going to Costa Rica, do your research. We heard that the east coast, the Caribbean side, is beautiful, so if I were to go back, I would go there. The weather did put a downer on things a little as I was going home to an Irish winter, and wanted to soak up as much good weather as possible before that! It is a beautiful country, but a little research into certain places will make the world of difference.